Bilingual programmes are helping students achieve a greater proficiency in reading and maths, perhaps UK schools should take note with the new inspection orders in place.

Jesus Santos, director of bilingual-multicultural education for MPS, said the research showed that the district’s bilingual programs are helping students achieve at a greater proficiency level in reading and math.

As the new school year approaches in the UK OFSTED have issued their guidance to inspectors which will come into effect on 1st September. One of the biggest challenges will be for schools to achieve success with their learners with English as an Additional Language (EAL or ESOL) learners.  These Dual langauge learners (DLL) will wish to keep their first language and build on it to gain their second. This creates a problem for monolingual teachers or those who feel less confident with teaching another language.

I can see that this is going to be the challenge as OFSTED clearly states that they will be looking at children who have the pupil premium attached to them, and also those who need support together with those designated EAL. The challenge will therefore be to get the learner as quickly as possible to the same level as their non-EAL equivalent, as anything between that will be scrutinised.

We can all be assured and reassured from the comments above by Jesus Santos that if we embrace the learners first language and use it as a stepping stone where appropriate, then the children learn and catch up quicker, particularly with reading and maths which is clearly another huge focus for the Inspectors.

Schools need to be looking for resources that with their innovative ways reassure and  give confidence to the teacher whilst celebrating and empowering the learner. A big ask but I am sure it can be done.

To read the new inspectors handbook in which I have highlighted with any mention specifically to EAL children go to our website  http://languagesupportuk.com/What%2527s-Good-.php Very worryingly is that  this group of children can alert inspectors and by my reading of the judgements you are better reading from the bottom up and checking that you fulfil the criteria for not achieving special measures or serious weaknesses otherwise you may find yourself at risk.

If you would like to read more about Francesca Lopez who has been through the school system right through to doctorate and researched her beliefs you can do so here  http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/educator-turns-rough-start-into-bilingual-mission-jo6k7ip-167495545.html  or read the read the story below.

Francesca Lopez vividly remembers starting school in El Paso, Texas, in the third grade.

She hated it.

Though she and her family lived in El Paso, she and her mom, like many others at the time, crossed the border to Juarez, Mexico, back and forth every day for school. Her mother taught high school, and she attended grade school.Then in the third grade her Mexican-born mother and American-born father decided she should go to public school. It’s an experience vividly etched in her memory.

“It was traumatic. I was very alone. I didn’t speak English very well, so I daydreamed. I wasn’t a very good student. I hated it,” she says while sitting in the living room of her Wauwatosa home.

But in the fifth grade it was announced that a new pilot program for gifted and talented students was starting. Everyone had to take the nonverbal intelligence test.To her surprise, and that of many classmates, she got in.That changed her life. And it set her on a lifelong educational path of teaching, counseling and researching the subject dear to her heart – bilingual education, testing, student achievement and how teachers teach students learning English.

Now 38, with a doctoral degree, she’s an assistant professor in the department of educational policy and leadership at Marquette University. She teaches courses on children and adolescents in a diverse society. She also researches language acquisition, teaching practices and the development of language, and the development of ethnic identity among Hispanic youths.

She also looks at the issues of testing, assessment and the outcomes of bilingual education programs vs. English immersion programs.Lopez still smiles broadly when she talks about how a test changed her own trajectory.

“That (fifth grade) test gave me an incredible boost,” she says. “I remember how I felt. It was like a ticket to a brand-new life, a new school, a new identity. I became an A student,” she says adding that by that time she was fluent in English.

Her new school emphasized literature and English, science and math. Her science project on right- and left-handedness – it used statistics she had learned in class – was chosen for the citywide science fair. The exposure to higher-level math and stronger academics propelled her. She attended an all-girls Catholic high school with many who, like her, were from Spanish-speaking homes but where much was expected.

Those early years, she says, taught her the importance of perception, self-confidence, motivation and what you can do if you believe in yourself, especially for bilingual students.

“If you believe you can do something, you can,” she says. “Whereas, if you don’t even believe you can do it, you might not even try.”

After college she began teaching in a third-grade bilingual class, then became a counselor. She received a master’s in counseling from the University of Texas at El Paso.When her husband’s job transferred him to Tucson, Ariz., she stayed home for a time with her young children and then pursued a doctorate in educational psychology at the University of Arizona. When she looked for a job, all the offers came from Midwest colleges and universities.

“In the Southwest everyone is bilingual, but in the Midwest you’re wanted and you feel needed because of the shifting demographics and growth of Latino and Spanish-speaking populations,” she says.

Last year she studied developmental and bilingual programs at 13 Milwaukee Public Schools.

Sometimes in dual-language programs where the classroom has equal numbers of English- and Spanish-dominant students, “there’s the potential for marginalizing Latino students, but I didn’t see that,” she says. “I found excellent teaching strategies.”

She adds, though, that teachers volunteered to be part of the study, so that might have skewed the overall picture.

Jesus Santos, director of bilingual-multicultural education for MPS, said the research showed that the district’s bilingual programs are helping students achieve at a greater proficiency level in reading and math.

“But we also learned that we need to continually provide professional development for teachers so we can continue to improve achievement,” he says. “Better teachers also understand the background of the students, and if they do they are more successful in teaching.”

That’s especially important for new bilingual teachers, whom the district is constantly recruiting, he says.

This school year, working with the Greater Milwaukee Catholic Education Consortium, Lopez will do research at several largely Latino Catholic elementary schools. The consortium comprises the five Catholic colleges and universities in the area and provides resources and research to Catholic K-12 schools.

Lopez said she will look at linking teacher behavior to student identity and student achievement and how it can grow.

With the growth of the Latino population and Spanish-speaking students, teachers need the skills to effectively work with the complexities of students from a different culture who speak another language, says Jennifer Maney, the coordinator of the consortium.

“We’re doing our best to keep up with the need,” Maney says, “so that we can improve student achievement and make good schools better

 

NQT – Help I have an interview …What shall I do?

This time of year reminds me of my degree show, just as I was preparing for it I was called to the professors office as there was a phone call for me. I was being invited to a job interview which was two days away and this just coincided with the middle day of my degree show and examinations. My mind went mad what should I do first, how can I get both things done? Luckily on that particular day I only had one verbal test which the professor changed to the day before, so off I went…luckily I was chosen and my teaching career was started.

If you are in the same place here is some advice particularly for language interviews.

  • If you have any questions ring up or email  to clarify  the position
  • Where possible find out about prior learning
  • Are you co-ordinating languages as part of the position?
  • Know the up to date curriculum and where appropriate suggest exemplar lessons to support any changes.
  • Find out the year group you will be teaching and relate the curriculum to this group including, aims and objectives.
  • Think about objections e.g. some parents and teachers think teaching a child another language rather than English is the wrong thing to do so will do all they can to object…how can you over come this?
  • What is the heads view?
  • Know the benefits of MFL or EAL especially that: good practice for MFL/EAL  is good practice for everything else.  (Many benefits of bilingual learning are now to be found on this blog and the internet)
  • Most importantly enjoy what you are doing.  If you enjoy it, your enthusiasm comes across and the children enjoy their learning.
  • This is probably one people will say you shouldnt say that, it is obvious, but having been in the position of interviewer, here goes.  Wear appropriate clothing for the demonstration lesson you want to deliver thereby show your professional clothing choice. Some people plan e.g. a walk around the grounds in trousers that drag in the ground, shoes that are unsuitable for walking and then are uncomfortable throughout the rest of the interview.  Both themselves and the interviewer do not feel they have got the best out of each other.

If part of the interview is the demonstration lesson, try to find out the normal expectations e.g. are the aims clearly shown, is the three-part lesson expected, the number in the class, the age group. What they would normally doing is a good place to start …if you have no ideas…because you could support current learning. Find out what they expect via lesson planning and if possible use their normal proforma – showing that you could fit right in helps. Know where what you are doing fits in the curriculum and what could come before or after it.

In some situations you may be starting off MFL or EAL in the school for the first time…unlikely but it has been known… in this case be aware that governors may want to ask questions re the curriculum and what you hope the MFL/EAL curriculum to look like in thats chool in say three-five years once you have embedded your ideas.  As I said more likely for a full co-ordinators role or Head of Department role, but it aware it can happen. For example just because there was a member of staff in the school when the job was advertised who was to be the co-ordinator, it doesn’t mean they will be there when you take up position for all sorts of reasons.

Finally make sure you enter the primary language awards and show off all of your good work. www.languageawards.com or facebook primarylanguageawards.